Jill Berry is former president of the Girls' Schools Association and is now independent schools' advocate with the National College for Leadership of Schools and Children's Services
What I'm reading
One Day by David Nicholls
I particularly enjoy novels about people and relationships where you find yourself caring about what happens to the characters. One Day describes a particular day, 15 July, from 1988 to 2007, in the lives of two people. It charts their experiences and the vicissitudes in their relationship over this 20-year period. It is extremely funny in parts and very touching. It cleverly recreates developments in society.
The book I loved as a child
What Katy Did by Susan Coolidge
As a child, I much preferred to read the same few books over and over again. I found comfort in knowing what was coming next and in revisiting familiar characters. I read What Katy Did the most frequently. It's a morality tale, really, set in 1880s America. It is about family and how children should behave. I'm sure if I re-read it I'd find it preachy, but I loved the characters and what it had to tell me about life in a different time and place.
Read this before you die
East of Eden by John Steinbeck
John Steinbeck is a very versatile writer. He can draw you in so that you become emotionally invested in the world he creates. East of Eden is a sweeping family saga, with very powerful characters and complex, changing relationships over several decades. I found it compelling and would recommend it to anyone who, like me, reads fiction to enter other worlds and to become absorbed in people's stories. In the process, it makes us reflect on our own.
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